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Ed Harris

  1. Paul Drake, Sudden Impact, 1983.  Change of Mick in the only Dirty Harry Callahan movie directed by Clint Eastwood. He remembered it well. It earned him $30m and a US President (Ronald Reagan) quoted his line: “Go ahead, make my day.”  Based, said scenarist Joseph Stinson on his father’s saying and not, apparently, what Gary Swanson said  to Wings Hauser in Vice Squad,1981: “Go ahead, scumbag, make my day." When  runing for Mayor of Carmel in 1986, Clint’s bumper stickers declared: “Go Ahead - Make Me Mayor.”

  2. Fred Ward, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, 1984.     And ends instantaneously…  “There wasn’t a second Remo because the first one was a box-office failure,” recalled (007) scenarist Christopher Wood.  “I like Fred Ward but he’s not a leading man. Ed Harris was up for the role. He  might have made the difference.”   Wood’s script was rewritten by (007) director Guy Hamilton. A 1988 TV pilot with Jeffrey Meek didn’t catch fire, either. 

  3. Sam Shepard, Fool for Love, 1985.      Robert Altman’s fourth filmed play in succession opened the ’85 Cannes festival even though playwright Shepard was against the filming - and the film, which he starred in. (Altman wouldn’t make it without him]. “A great mistake on my part,”  said Sam. “Ed Harris was better in the play [directed by Shepard, who called Ed his muse]. He had a more clean attack on the character than I did I was too attached to the material… Bob did a commendable job.   But in retrospect, I don’t think it works.”
  4. Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1987.      Martin Scorsese first read the Nikos Kazantzakis novel  - a gift from Barbara Hershey) during their Boxcar Bertha in 1971.  In the following 16 years, his choices for Jesus ranged from Harris, David Carradine (Hershey’s lover) and   Aidan Quinn to Eric Roberts and Christopher Walken. 
  5. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.     Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a cartoon character was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script (for Chinatown, read Toontown). So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself - Jack Nicholson? No, producer Steven Spielberg could see no further than Harrison Ford. Too expensive! OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis considered Charles Grodin, Aussie cmic Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies), Joe Pantoliano - and auditioned voice artist Peter Renaday. And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud- he would have loved being Valiant. Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. “I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  “I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.”
  6. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.      UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta… and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
  7. James Caan, Misery, 1990.   "The idea of playing a victim didn't appeal to a lot of people," said director Rob Reiner explaining such refusniks as Harris, Warren Beatty, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Gdene Hackman, John Heard, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Ed O’Neill, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, John Ritter, Denzel Washington. How come Caan agreed? "I think he wanted the work."
  8. Scott Glenn, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.
  9. Julian Sands, Boxing Helena, 1992.
  10. Harvey Keitel, The Piano, Australia-France-New Zealand, 1992.   New Zealand auteur Jane Campion’s first choice for Maori face-tattooed Baine. And so Keitel was naked again (as often as Bardo) in helping Campion become the first woman to win the Cannes Festival’s best film Palme d’Or in 1993.

  11. Bruce Willis, Striking Distance, 1993.       Set for Ed, re-spun for Robert De Niro and Willis finally apologised to ticket buyers in 2004. “It sucked!” No surprise as it also featured Sarah Jessica Parker.
  12. Bruce Willis, Nobody’s Fool, 1994.    He was tied up so director Robert Benton SOSed one of his Billy Bathgate team to be Paul Newman’s on-off boss.
  13. Jeff Daniels, Speed, 1994.   As Jack's sidekick, Ed was to be unmasked asthe mad bomber. Impossible with Daniels, said the producers, so a new bomber was created - for Dennis Hooper.
  14. James Woods, Nixon, 1994.   Harris was the JFK director Oliver Stone’s #1 notion for the dreaded HR Haldeman (one half of Nixpon’s Berlin Wall!).  Until a Stone regular took it over. 
  15. Dennis Hopper, Carried Away, 1995.     Hopper’s finest hour!   As a mild-mannered schoolteacher, with a failed farm and a mid-aged lover, who finds a teenage vixen has manouevered herself into his bed in Bruno Barreto’s film with his wife Amy Irving (the ex-Mrs Spielberg). 
  16. James Woods, Killer: A Journal of Murder, 1995.   Ed Haris, William Hurt and John Malkovich were considered for Carl Panzram - “one of the most vicious, degenerate criminals of his time,” reported critic Roger Ebert inhis Chicago  Sun-Times review. So, of course, he was played by Jimmy Woods. In the same year, he was also  the killer of black civil rights worker Medgar Evers in Ghosts of Mississippi. 
  17. Tommy Lee Jones, Volcano, 1996.   “Lava? Right here in L.A?”  The hero of the disaster movie was  first  offered to Harris and Bill Pullman. 
  18. Scott Glenn, Buffalo Soldiers, 2001.      “War is hell... but peace is f*#!%!! boring.” For his Catch 22 in Gemany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Director Gregor Jordan sent Ed the script, marking SergeantLee. He preferred Colonel Berman. OK, said Jordan, calling another of The Right Stuff NASAstronauts for the Sarge.
  19. Tom Hanks, Catch Me If You Can, 2002.      When Gore Verbinski was to direct, he looked at Ed before settling on James Gandolfino as the FBI man chasing Leonardo DiCaprio’s cameleon con man.  Finally. Steven Spielberg made the film - inevitably with Hanks. 
  20. Alfred Molina,Spider-Man 2, 2003.

  21. Fred Willard, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,  2003. The first draft of the San Diego KVWN Channel 4 Newsman’s bio suggested actors for various roles including Ed for Ed Harken, panicking the 70s TV newsman  by suggesting “diversity.”  Namely, a woman co-anchor.
  22. Edward James Olmos,  Battlestar Galactica, TV, 2004-2009.      Harrison Ford and Sam Shepard were also among the somewhat lofty goals for the 74 hours of Admiral William Adama.   Although fearing something campy like the 1978 series, Olmos was in by the fourth page of the scenario.
  23. David Morse, World War Z, 2012.   After beating Leonardo DiCaprio to the rights, Brad Pitt found two of his co-stars jumping the zombie ship - Harris and Bryan Cranston. Obviously.  The Boss had the best role.








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